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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Choosing toys for your toddler: Keep it safe and gender neutral

When we—as parents—are choosing toys for our child, we should overcome gender stereotypes attached to the toys

By: Parenting Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 2, 2020 12:52:56 pm
gender stereotypes, gender neutral approach at home, buying toys for kids, gender neutral parenting, parenting, indian express newsBuying oversized or undersized apparels is not hazardous, but the same rule does not apply to toys. (Source: Getty/Thinkstock)

By Monali Kakoty

Toys play an indispensable role in the growth and development of a child. For a child born in a nuclear family and residing in an urban landscape, toys play even a greater role. The kind of toy requirement will change every quarter of the year. It is wise to introduce them to a variety of playthings. I also believe that it is time that when we—as parents—are choosing toys for our child, we should overcome gender stereotypes attached to the toys. To put it simply, it is perfectly normal to buy a bat and a ball, models of superheroes for your baby girl, and to buy a teddy or a doll for your baby boy.

Buying oversized or undersized apparels is not hazardous. In fact, as per my experience buy slightly oversized apparels as infants grow at a breakneck rate, but the same rule does not apply to toys. Purchasing toys without strictly adhering to the defined age guidelines can be life-threatening. I would like to draw your focus to the importance of buying age-appropriate toys and adhering to the defined age group by narrating a frightening incident of our life. One evening, as I was cooking, and my husband was in his study, our daughter, around two years old at that time, was playing with her toys. After sometime, when I went to check on her, I could see that she was struggling, as if something was stuck in her throat. We had bought a beautifully printed piggy bank and started a collection of few coins; we kept the piggy bank in a drawer that was, unfortunately, in her reach. She must have opened the lid of the box, taken out a few coins, and put them in her mouth, which then got stuck in her throat.

I was terrified; I immediately slapped her back, and she spitted out three coins. But I wasn‘t sure how many coins she had swallowed. We rushed to our neighbor‘s house. They tried a few techniques to take out the stuck coins, in case there were any left inside her throat. They took us to a doctor in our society who asked us to go for an immediate X-ray. Fortunately, the X-ray image showed that there were no coins anywhere in her body. It was the biggest sigh of relief of my life.

This made us realize, the things that are prescribed to be out of reach of children should be kept out of their reach. The same goes for the case of toys. The toys that are marked for 4+ years, for instance, should not be given to a 2-year-old girl or boy. The small parts or the detachable batteries of such toys may be a real health hazard for the young ones. I plead every parent to avoid toys with small parts, battery-operated toys, etc. for your infant child. It is wise to be choosy!

Tidying the House

Children are the most curious beings in this whole universe. They would nudge this, throw that, and empty the toothpaste tube just to see what happens. It is all right if your toddler throws a soft toy. It is still ok if he pokes a copper vase, it falls, and deforms. It is also fine if he crumples a nice painting. But it is dangerous if he breaks a ceramic pot or spills a cup of hot coffee. The broken ceramic can hurt him badly or the hot coffee can burn his soft skin and eventually scar his fragile mind. It is even more dangerous to leave floor cleaning agents, like phenyl, within his reach as children have the tendency to put everything in their mouth.

gender stereotypes, gender neutral approach at home, buying toys for kids, gender neutral parenting, parenting, indian express news The cover of the book

We had to literally shift everything to areas out of our little one‘s reach. Glass vases got locked in the chests. The lipsticks, nail polishes, deodorants, perfumes, shampoos, shower gels, hair oil, hairpins, cufflinks, and eyeliners, all got locked up in the dressing table cabinet. We were careful enough not to even leave the toothpaste on the dining table, not that the toothpaste deserves that space! We blocked the power sockets that were placed towards the lower parts of the walls. I once, accidently, in the bath time I left my conditioner within her reach and went to get her towel. By the time I got back, the entire content of the conditioner was spilled on the bathroom floor, and it turned extremely slippery. Fortunately, nothing grave occurred.

You need to identify all the objects in your home that may be harmful to your baby and keep it out of your toddler‘s reach. It is imperative because being in a nuclear family, you have to often leave your toddler unattended, for instance, for a quick visit to the washroom, to prepare food, etc.

By the time our daughter was around two year old, we started acquainting her with many of these items. She started to realize that certain things are brittle, and they need utmost care. She slowly understood that deodorants are not to be played with. My make-up kits are still locked up in the cabinet and come out only on a need-to-use basis.

(Excerpted with permission from the book Heartbeat: A Journey to Motherhood)

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